Raw Veggies vs. Cooked for Heart Disease

Raw Veggies vs. Cooked for Heart Disease
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Fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But which is more protective—raw or cooked?

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In this recent study of 50,000 men and women published, those who ate the most apples appeared to have significantly less risk of having a heart attack in the eight years they were followed. But those drinking apple juice appeared to increase their risk. That makes sense. Apples, like all whole plant foods, are packed with fiber, which may lower cholesterol, whereas juice consumption—no fiber, just sugar—has been tied to the risk of diseases like diabetes.

So, nothing new here, but what about this one? 20,000 men and women followed for ten years. An estimated 34% lower risk of coronary heart disease for those with a high intake of fruits and vegetables. But, they went a step further and compared raw versus cooked. No such study, focusing specifically on raw versus processed fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to coronary heart disease incidence, has ever been done, until now. What do you think they found?

Well, in the past we’ve learned that daily salad consumption, for example, may significantly decrease one’s risk of dying from heart disease. In this study of 11,000 vegetarians and other health-conscious people, daily consumption of raw salad was associated with a 26% reduction in mortality from ischemic heart disease.

So we know raw is good. At the same time, we’ve known for 15 years that phytonutrients like lycopene, in tomatoes, appear protective against heart disease—and cooking dramatically boosts lycopene bioavailability.

This was actually an interesting study. It’s hard to trust what people tell you about what they eat, so instead, people admitted to the hospital for heart attacks had a plug of fat tissue taken from their butt, and just had it analyzed to basically confirm how much tomato sauce they had really been eating.

So anyway, raw or cooked for heart disease prevention? And you probably guessed it—the answer is both.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to mark_am_kramer / Flickr

In this recent study of 50,000 men and women published, those who ate the most apples appeared to have significantly less risk of having a heart attack in the eight years they were followed. But those drinking apple juice appeared to increase their risk. That makes sense. Apples, like all whole plant foods, are packed with fiber, which may lower cholesterol, whereas juice consumption—no fiber, just sugar—has been tied to the risk of diseases like diabetes.

So, nothing new here, but what about this one? 20,000 men and women followed for ten years. An estimated 34% lower risk of coronary heart disease for those with a high intake of fruits and vegetables. But, they went a step further and compared raw versus cooked. No such study, focusing specifically on raw versus processed fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to coronary heart disease incidence, has ever been done, until now. What do you think they found?

Well, in the past we’ve learned that daily salad consumption, for example, may significantly decrease one’s risk of dying from heart disease. In this study of 11,000 vegetarians and other health-conscious people, daily consumption of raw salad was associated with a 26% reduction in mortality from ischemic heart disease.

So we know raw is good. At the same time, we’ve known for 15 years that phytonutrients like lycopene, in tomatoes, appear protective against heart disease—and cooking dramatically boosts lycopene bioavailability.

This was actually an interesting study. It’s hard to trust what people tell you about what they eat, so instead, people admitted to the hospital for heart attacks had a plug of fat tissue taken from their butt, and just had it analyzed to basically confirm how much tomato sauce they had really been eating.

So anyway, raw or cooked for heart disease prevention? And you probably guessed it—the answer is both.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to mark_am_kramer / Flickr

Doctor's Note

For more on the benefits of whole fruit compared to juice, see my video, Best Fruit Juice. A healthy alternative is my video, Pink Juice With Green Foam. For more on the healthfulness of cooked versus raw veggies, see my video, Best Cooking Method.

Note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links in the Sources Cited section above. 

For more context, check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

11 responses to “Raw Veggies vs. Cooked for Heart Disease

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  1. For more on the benefits of whole fruit compared to juice see Best Fruit Juice. A healthy alternative is my Pink Juice With Green Foam. For more on the healthfulness of cooked versus raw veggies, see my video Best Cooking Method. Note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links above in the Sources Cited section. And feel free to check out my hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.




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  2. For more on the benefits of whole fruit compared to juice see Best Fruit Juice. A healthy alternative is my Pink Juice With Green Foam. For more on the healthfulness of cooked versus raw veggies, see my video Best Cooking Method. Note that most of the sources for this video are open access, so you can download them by clicking on the links above in the Sources Cited section. And feel free to check out my hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.




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  3. Great stuff. Just a heads up, the first ‘Sources Cited’ goes to “Dietary habits and mortality in 11000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of a 17year followup” rather than “Raw and processed” etc. The actual study is easy to find though. Thanks for the great videos. Been a great help.




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  4. Hi Doc, I have a question about Tomato Paste. I eat half a small tin (BPA free) of tomato paste each day. I have read that cooking increases the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes, because it breaks open the cell walls, I believe. My question is: would heat increase bioavailability of lycopene in tomato paste, or would it not because the cell walls have already been broken in making the tomato paste? Thank you for your great work. I wish my Dad had known about your work.




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  5. The advantage of a Raw Vegan Diet is not cardiovascular diseases,
    but rather cancers, So this study is a waste of time in my opinion.

    On the other hand, I would like to know what science say about
    “Human Big Brain Hypothesis”.

    Some researchers believe that the transition to cooked food,
    it’s what helped humans to develop bigger brain, Because it dramatically increased the caloric intake. Therefore raw food can have hazards for human brains according to this hypothesis.
    On the other side of the story, I read that caloric restriction in general,
    and even occasional fasting,is known to promote neurogenesis.

    So which one is true?




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